Type of Policy
Effective Date:
Last Revised:
Review Date:
Policy Owner
Office of the Provost
Contact Name
Loraine Phillips
Contact Title
Assc Provost-Academic Effectiveness
Contact Email
Reason for Policy

A substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  The federal government requires accrediting agencies to have a substantive change policy and to monitor the compliance of its member colleges and universities with the substantive change policy.  Georgia Tech’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires as a condition of accreditation that member institutions notify SACSCOC of substantive changes and, in some cases, seek SACSCOC approval prior to implementation of such changes.

Policy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to establish Georgia Tech’s responsibilities and required procedures for timely notification of substantive changes to SACSCOC.  The policy complies with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement and the SACSCOC Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy in adherence with the United States Department of Education Regulation 34 CFR 602.22 Substantive Change and the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook


This policy applies to any responsible Institute employee who can initiate, review, or approve changes that are considered substantive according to the current version of the SACSCOC Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy.  In academic affairs, this includes faculty, assistant and associate deans, deans, vice provosts, and the provost.  Other Institute officials in Procurement and Business Services, the Office of Legal Affairs, or at Georgia Tech international locations might be asked to review or approve a substantive change initiative.  These individuals are responsible for timely notification of substantive changes to the he SACSCOC Liaison, who is responsible for notifying or seeking approval from SACSCOC as appropriate for the substantive change. 

Policy Terms

Substantive Change

Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  Under federal regulations, substantive change includes, but is not limited to:

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  • Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  • The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation
  • A change from clock hours to credit hours
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program.
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
  • Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  • Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
  • Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

5.1 Internal Reporting to Georgia Tech's SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison

Notification to SACSCOC Liaison of Proposed Changes
Upon becoming aware of the proposed change that may be substantive, responsible parties should notify the SACSCOC Liaison as early as possible so that the information required by SACSOC is prepared appropriately by the Institute and submitted by the SACSCOC Liaison to SACSCOC according to the SACSCOC specified timeline with the appropriate internal review and approvals. 

Late Notification
If it is discovered a potential substantive change has been implemented without notification to the SACSCOC Liaison, the responsible party has the responsibility to notify the SACSCOC Liaison immediately.  It is then the responsibility of the SACSCOC Liaison to notify SACSCOC as provided in the SACSCOC Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy.

5.2 External Reporting to SACSCOC
The following is a list of frequently enacted examples, but is not intended to serve as a complete list of substantive changes:

SACSCOC Approval of a Full Prospectus

  1. Offering a 50% or more of the credit/clock hours needed to complete a degree, certificate, or diploma at a new off-campus instructional site
  2. Altering significantly the length of a program  Note: Rule of thumb for significant alteration in length is increasing or decreasing the number of credit/clock hours by 25% or more
  3. Adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum at the Institute
  4. Initiating a new branch campus

Written SACSCOC Request and SACSCOC Prior Approval

  1. Inactivating/closing a program, when a program stops admitting students, with internal teach-out protocol
  2. Inactivating/closing a program, when a program stops admitting students, with a teach-out agreement with another institution

Written SACSCOC Notification Prior to Implementation of Change

  1. Initiating an off-campus site where students can obtain 25-49% of credits/clock hours of a certificate/degree
  2. Initiating programs/courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium including a dual award academic program with another institution
  3. Initiating dual awards with another institution not accredited by SACSCOC

No SACSCOC Notification Necessary

  1. Initiating an off-campus site where students can obtain 24% or less of credits/clock hours of a certificate/degree
  2. Offering courses via distance education  Note: Georgia Tech is already a SACSCOC approved distance education provider as of June 2002
  3. Offering established instructional programs at an approved and established off-campus site
  4. Initiating a certificate or degree program using existing approved courses

8.1 Responsible Party
Georgia Tech SACSCOC Liaison

Every SACSCOC member institution has an Accreditation Liaison whose charge it is to ensure compliance with SACSCOC accreditation requirements. The SACSCOC Liaison for Georgia Tech is:

Associate Provost for Academic Effectiveness
Office of Academic Effectiveness
(404) 385 - 1419

8.2 Responsible Party

Each individual, position, or entity designated as within the scope of this policy is required to be familiar with and comply with this policy.

The SACSCOC Liaison is responsible for ensuring the Institute policy is in compliance with the current version of the SACSCOC policy. THe SACSCOC Liaison is also responsible for communicating policy updates to Institute stakeholders.


Failure to comply with SACSCOC's substantive change policy could result in the Institute being placed on sanction or being removed from membership. If an institution fails to follow SACSCOC substantive change policy and procedures, it may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money receieved by the Institute for programs related to unreported substantive change.

To report suspected instances of ethical violations, please visit Georgia Tech’s EthicsPoint, a secure and confidential reporting system, at: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=7508

Policy History
Revision Date Author Description
09-2019 Office of Academic Effectiveness Policy Updates
08-2014 Library Learning Excellence New Policy